It’s easy to forget that streaming tight ends is so suddenly en vogue this time of season, when fantasy owners find themselves grasping desperately at options left straggling on the waiver wire, hoping their guesses work out for the best.
We weekly tight end streamers know better though. We know that matchups matter, and that exploiting waiver wire options facing defenses that have been tormented by tight ends is a legitimate, workable option.
What we fail to realize sometimes is that opportunity can trump matchups in rare circumstances. Consistently high numbers of pass routes and/or targets should grab our attention as much as tight ends going up against the most tight-end generous defensive units in the NFL.
Opportunity should trump many of the factors we examine in streaming any position, from the number of passes a quarterback throws to the total route run by tight ends floating freely on your local waiver wire. Remember as much when we look at our Week 7 streaming tight ends.
Garrett Graham (HOU) at Kansas City Chiefs
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Graham’s Week 7 matchup is downright hideous. He’s facing a defense that hasn’t allowed five fantasy points to a tight end through six weeks, thanks to Eric Berry — Pro Football Focus’s No. 1 coverage safety — and Justin Houston, who ranks second among all linebackers in pass coverage.
I would happily and eagerly beg off of Graham this week — especially after his 25-yard Week 6 dud — except for his undeniable opportunity as Houston’s new full-time tight end.
Graham, who averaged five targets, 3.8 receptions, and 35.2 yards per game before Owen Daniels was lost for the next two months, saw just four targets against the Rams last week. He caught two of those targets and, like most Texans’ offensive weapons, wasn’t a factor in a game that saw the team implode.
The silver lining is that Graham ran 34 pass routes against St. Louis, the fifth-most tight end routes run in Week 6. That certainly lowered his once-great fantasy points per route run (FPPRR), but that number still stands at .22 — a respectable FPPRR. Graham, if he continues running 35-40 routes a game, will average 7.7 fantasy points.
His matchup stinks, but we shouldn’t ignore the screaming opportunity here.
Charles Clay (MIA) vs. Buffalo Bills
I’m not exactly sure what Clay has to do to be owned in more than 32 percent of leagues.
He’s fantasy’s ninth highest scoring tight end — even after his bye week, he’s top-12 in tight end targets, and he has a 75 percent catch rate, according to Pro Football Focus. And yet, people are still starting Jared Cook and Brandon Pettigrew over Ryan Tannehill’s safety blanket.
The Bills have allowed eight total fantasy points to tight ends over the past three weeks, so once again, we have an objectively bad matchup neutralized by opportunity. Clay is seeing 6.1 targets per contest, and it should be noted that many of those are quality targets. He’s developed into a go-to red zone threat for Miami, just as Dustin Keller would have. The Dolphins really have no one else to throw it to inside the 20, and especially inside the 10 yard line.
Clay’s off-the-charts FPPRR of .32 will drop, and probably soon. You’ll struggle to find a better option on the ol’ wire this week (or any week).
Jordan Reed (WAS) vs. Chicago Bears
Washington’s unquestioned starting tight end and newest weapon for Robert Griffin III is owned in less than 2 percent of leagues. This, dear streamer, is my shocked face.
Chicago shutting down Brandon Myers shouldn’t scare you away from Reed this week. Myers has become a blocking tight end for an offensive line that has proven sieve like. Take a look at tight end stat lines against the Bears from Weeks 3-5 and you’ll see Reed has a fantastic Week 7 matchup.
Tight ends combined for 18 catches and 243 yards over that three-week stretch. Reed offered a glimpse last week of what he can do as a full-time piece of Washington’s offense, grabbing four of his six targets for 58 yards.
His middling .18 FPPRR will jump over the next week or two, as will his fantasy ownership. Reed ran 33 pass routes against Dallas — a good sign for our purposes. Stash the rookie wherever you can; he’s going to become an every-week fantasy starter, sooner rather than later.